John Roberts, Blame

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[Laid]


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John Roberts claims to spend a lot of time tweaking tracks from his bed or couch. I find this both plausible and kind of baffling. While the American Berliner prodigiously crafts fresh-out-the-steam-room house tunes mirroring the laid-back circumstances of their creation, he populates his sides with some of the most hyper-tangible and painstakingly textured samples in deep house. Dance music nerds often fetishize records made on analog gear in elaborate custom recording studios, but shy of hiring an on-call chair massage crew, I just can’t see panel after panel of humming gear birthing ear candy as good-vibin’ and deceptively crafty as Roberts’ couch-and-MacBook music. Spooning a modular synth is also pretty difficult.

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Since his blunted (and perennially amazing) 2008 debut “Hesitate,” Roberts has sounded less prostrate and more floor-ready with each release. On “Blame,” his latest A-side for Dial subsidiary Laid, he might just be standing up. Roberts’ tracks often kick off with a swirling, quasi-formless introduction where his samples can mix and mingle before locking into groove. But on “Blame,” his rhythm, ensnared by 909-reminiscent hi-hats, immediately falls in line and never stops stepping. Ironically, this most classic of dubby house jams represents something of a departure for Roberts: While his signature light touch — the uncanny, Alcachofa-reminiscent knack for imbuing samples with enough vibrancy that they appear to organically worm their own way through the mix — remains ever-present, he injects directness and forward motion I haven’t previously associated with him. B-side “Relate” sounds like Roberts’ futon politely asking him not to get too carried away. The track is quintessentially John Roberts, an absolutely first-rate 120-BPM chugger. As tremor-afflicted rhythm rides over druggy, Moodymann-inspired dub chords, a stammering baritone vocal sample has been manipulated to say what sounds like “Back rub.” If “Blame” slots perfectly into your debauched Saturday night at Brooklyn’s House-N-Home, then is “Relate” some kind of folk hangover remedy for your subsequent woozy Sunday. You know us too well, good sir. A reminder of why we’ve loved the guy thus far and why we’re not likely to stop, “Blame” deserves your utmost attention. Peel yourself off your recliner — unless you’re in the middle of sequencing your latest house single or something — and snag your bad self a copy.

william  on September 8, 2009 at 3:24 PM

the nord lead is very spoonable.

William  on September 8, 2009 at 6:22 PM

Couch House

i like that!

mattngtv  on September 8, 2009 at 6:52 PM

Bedamine House

struggle  on September 9, 2009 at 4:40 AM

“relate” made people go ape shit last party. fuck yo recliner!

raul  on September 9, 2009 at 1:00 PM

he is dials best

Samuel b  on September 9, 2009 at 3:08 PM

The artwork is amazing!

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